It seems obvious that over-used, half-hearted event tactics will fail to get results.
And yet, scores of show organizers are doing just that: latching onto an idea that at one point made sense and hauling it out year after year without considering if the strategy is still working for their show.
And they may be wasting money by doing this.
Tried-and-true ideas can be an event organizer’s mainstay. But if “tried” is turning into “tired,” that’s a recipe for a lackluster event. Instead of making a lukewarm effort on a tired idea that keeps the event from moving forward, event organizers should consider devoting the time and resources needed to make a tactic REALLY work… or make the decision to trim it from the event.
Here are some event features that might be holding your event back, and how to energize the ones you DO decide to keep:
1. Cyber Cafés
Yes, our world is increasingly digital.
Some of your attendees, however, may still find that some documents are simply easier to manage or view as a hard copy. Because of this, many event organizers offer a “cyber café.” This is a designated space where attendees can work at a desktop station and print off documents. However, many of these setups lack the visual interest needed to drive traffic and may sit empty for most of the event.
Embrace the “café” part of your cyber café.
Set up a one-stop shop where attendees can relax, have a coffee and snack, charge their devices, and do whatever printing is needed. This could also be a place to offer the sale of charging cords (for phones and laptops) and charging packs.
You may just save attendees from having to leave the exhibit hall to try to find these must-have items!
2. Social Media Monitors
It’s a thrill for any show organizer to see excited chatter on social media buzzing about the incredible keynote speaker or mind-blowing exhibits.
Event organizers are encouraging this by setting up monitors where attendees can more easily keep track of the social media conversation. After a while, though, the allure may fade — especially for people who may not be submitting posts themselves.
Take things to the next level by turning social media monitors into the heartbeat of the event.
A much (much!) bigger digital wall can display not only social media feeds, but also session schedules, helpful information, event promotions, live sessions, and sponsor ads. Gather event-related images that people upload to social media and create a digital mosaic wall.
To further boost sharing and build a sense of community, tie your event hashtag to a charitable give back campaign.
3. Exhibit Hall Lounges
The traditional hall, with rows and rows of uninterrupted exhibitor booths, doesn’t always encourage lingering or learning.
Show organizers have been addressing this challenge for years with the integration of lounge areas that encourage networking, learning, resting, and meeting. This allows room for attendees to gather, take a break, or have a quiet chat with an exhibitor’s rep.
Often, these lounges can be found in unsold booth locations. However, there hasn’t always been a lot of effort devoted to these lounge areas. Putting out a few chairs and a little table into an unsold booth practically screams “afterthought.”
Plan ahead for large chunks of unsold space, to make ample room for lounges.
Optimize unsold booth space with comfortable seating, charging stations, refreshments, and information screens. Large chunks of space lend themselves to interactive lounges for learning or networking, and are great opportunities to give neighboring exhibitors the option of sponsoring the lounge. This is a win-win, allowing them to garner additional foot traffic and effectively increase their show floor presence.
4. Food and Drink
The last thing any show organizer wants is for people to duck out of an event early because they’re starving.
Having food and beverages can also be a great way to get people to the exhibit hall. But, many organizers overdo it (or do it poorly), resulting in attendees who are either sluggish and overfed, or cranky from long food lines. Some organizers offer three square meals a day, thinking it’s critical to attract attendees.
Offering frequent small snacks between sessions (and plenty of coffee) keeps attendees moving quickly from session to session, instead of being stuck in line at the coffee shop. If a daily lunch is included with their entry fee, badge scanning lets attendees move through lunch lines instead of rummaging for tokens or tickets.
To further reduce lines, offer a long lunch window so that people who are hungry at 11 am can get lunch then, as can those who aren’t hungry until 1 pm. Remember, it’s not the convention center food that attendees come for: it’s the networking, education, and memorable experience.
5. Oversized Lettering
The name of an event in massive lettering can provide big impact. It offers:
- A “wow” welcome
- A great selfie spot
- An identifiable location for attendees to meet up
- Even a place to hang out (especially if your event name has plenty of o’s and u’s to sit in)
After attendees have seen it a few times, however, it just becomes an expensive part of the scenery.
Take advantage of this feature’s high visibility to integrate high-value sponsor activities. Some ideas include interactive contests, music, celebrity appearances, and high-end giveaways that give attendees the feeling they’re a part of something truly exclusive and special.
Creating a high-energy, rockstar atmosphere around this feature will set the mood and tone for the entire event and will provide a hugely valuable sponsorship opportunity.
The same-old just doesn’t cut it in today’s competitive event environment.
To really make a splash, event organizers have to look critically at every part of their event. It’s better to have just a few big and bold elements than a whole bunch of lackluster ones. So, don’t be afraid to pare down what’s not working, and spend the resulting savings on making your remaining event elements as impressive as possible.
By doing this, organizers can create a major impact and a memorable event that will keep attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors coming back for more.
Which of these ideas might be holding back your event?
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